Tag Archives: Tempranillo

Drinking Tonight: Tempranillo-Merlot

Just a light dinner of salad and cheese this evening, and I’ve popped open a recent Spanish acquisition. This is a ‘new-wave’ blend, as it combines Spain’s most noble grape, Tempranillo, with the international Merlot variety. The proportion are 70% Tempranillo and 30% Merlot, and it’s been aged in oak barrels for 12 months.

Abancay Crianza (2009) Cariñena, Spain – $9

Photo0269Color: purple verging on reddish-purple, and quite dense. About the darkest Tempranillo I’ve seen.

Aroma: intriguing – I think I get more of the Tempranillo fruit and dusty/oaky notes, but there are some hints of blueberry underneath from the Merlot.

Taste: considerably softer and easier-drinking than I was expecting – interesting! Predominate tastes are cherry, dried cherry, blueberry, and a moderate amount of oak towards the finish.

I like the blend, as the Merlot softens and rounds off the Tempranillo, which can be quite stiff and imposing. This is versatile, and I think it would make a great wine for tailgating or a holiday party. Recommended!


Drinking Tonight: Two Tempranillos

I have two bottles of Tempranillo to go with pork chops and mushroom sauce. Tempranillo is one of my favorite grapes for pork.  I purchased both of these from Trader Joe’s recently;  they both have 3 months of oak aging, and they each have an interesting twist.

Photo0230La Finca is from Argentina – even though it’s a Spanish-speaking country, the Argentinian wine industry was mostly influenced by the Italian immigrants of the 19th century; you find more French and Italian grapes there than you do Spanish. Since this is a Trader Joe’s exclusive wine, there isn’t anything on this particular bottling on the company website, but there is great info on how they produce their other wines.

Viriato is labelled as a “Tinto de Toro”, which is the local synonym for Tempranillo in the Toro region of Spain. Quite often you find some minor genetic variation in regions which use different names – but it’s not guaranteed; new producers often get cuttings from whichever sub-variety is most prolific, is easiest to breed, or just happens to be fashionable at the moment.

La Finca Tempranillo (2012) Mendoza, Argentina – $5.

Color: ordinary garnet-cherry red.

Aroma: clean red berry fruit, including red currant and pomegranate.

Taste: clean on the palate as well; nice length and body for an inexpensive wine, with no off-notes.

Viriato Tinto de Toro (2010) Toro, Spain – $10.

Color: red with a purple edge; there was a significant tartrate deposit on the cork.

Aroma: a darker nose, with more pronounced spice note and more black fruit.

Taste: this is chewy – probably the most tannic Tempranillo I’ve had for under $30; you could stand this up proudly against quality Riojas. More pepper and earth notes, plus some cocoa on the finish.

These are both really nice wines, and they are both well-suited for pork. I’d recommend them each for different reasons. La Finca is a great bargain – a nice Tempranillo for $5 is hard to turn away. It’s definitely something to consider for your next party. Viriato is just a good wine, period. Excellent depth, nice balance, good fruit and spice notes, and only $10. Like I said above, this could substitute for a lot of $30 Riojas.  Grab a bottle or two of each!

Drinking Tonight: 2 Tempranillos with Pork Stir-Fry

I have 2 inexpensive Tempranillos from Trader Joe’s, to go with my home-made stir-fry and brown rice.  I’ll give you the recipe first, then we can talk wine.

Pork Stir-Fry

You’ll want to saute this in batches over medium heat in canola oil, using a large, deep saute pan – and then combine at the end.

  • Batch 1: 5 carrots, washed and sliced + 2-3 Tbsp ginger, finely diced + 1/2 jalapeno, diced (optional)
  • Batch 2: 2 zucchini and/or yellow squash, seeded and cut into bite-sized chunks + 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Batch 3: 1/2 head bok choi or similar greens, washed and chopped. Cook this batch only lightly – you want the stems to get soft, but don’t let the leaves wilt.
  • Batch 4: 1 pound pork loin (trimmings are fine) + 2-3 onions, chopped.

After the pork is just browned and the onions are starting to get translucent, add all the other ingredients back in. Then add 1 cup of a marinade or sauce: ginger-soy or teriyaki work well, plus 1/2 cup of water or stock.  Simmer another 10-15 minutes on low, covered, until the flavors have started to blend, and serve over white or brown rice.

I’ve already expressed how much I love Spanish wine – especially Tempranillo – with pork. Today we’ll be trying out Terrenal and Zumaya. Zumaya has the better pedigree, coming from the renowned Ribera del Duero region; hence the price difference.

Terrenal Tempranillo (2010) Yecla, Spain – $6.00

Color: straight garnet red.

Aroma: just a touch musty at first, but that blows off and leaves behind dried fruit notes and a touch of dried floral aromas too – rose petal?

Taste: this is just a touch raisiny; I’ll have to do some research, but I suspect that it was a particularly hot year in Yecla, and they difficulty keeping everything in synch. The mid-palate and finish are pleasantly dusty, and the acidity and tannins are fine. This might be better with smoked or barbequed meat. $6 isn’t a bad price point, but I’ve written about competitors at that range that I think are better-made.


Zumaya Tempranillo (20011) Ribera del Duero, Spain – $11.50

Color: quite dark purple-red; this is very promising.

Aroma: right up front a touch of vanilla from the oak, then dark plummy fruit; some jammy/smoky hints underneath the straight fruit.

Taste: lots of character, with an excellent, rich mouthfeel and a taste profile that goes from tight dried fruit, through jammy fruit, and on to a spicy finish. They really got their money’s worth from the brief barrel aging. A good choice for the garlic-ginger-soy notes in the stir-fry.

This has just 2 months of American oak aging after stainless steel fermentation, so it would be classed as a Joven (young) – they also make a Crianza but I haven’t seen it on the shelves. A nice introduction to this important growing region for under $12 – recommended.